Union responds to Bloomberg’s exec budget, community college funding


Mayor Bloomberg’s Executive Budget slightly increases CUNY Community College funding, but it depends too much on tuition hikes and doesn’t meet the needs of low-income, minority and immigrant students who attend the City University of New York (CUNY), according to Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the union that represents faculty and professional staff at CUNY.

“Some of the most vulnerable students in New York attend CUNY community colleges. They struggle to overcome significant personal and economic hardships, and for their troubles, they have seen years of budget cuts and underfunding,” said Bowen. “Instead of providing the funds to bring class sizes to manageable levels and hold the line of tuition, the Mayor is asking students to pay more and failing to make new investments in CUNY.”

Forty-seven percent of CUNY’s community college students come from households with annual incomes of $20,000 or less. Eighty-one percent are students of color, and 44 percent are immigrants.

The Mayor’s plan would only partially cover CUNY’s inflationary costs and it does nothing to account for enrollment increases and past cuts to scholarships and other programs. It also assumes a $300 tuition hike that many faculty and students oppose. The hike is part of CUNY’s five-year plan to increase tuition by $1,500 at community colleges and senior colleges.

PSC First Vice President Steve London said CUNY faculty and students are counting on the City Council to ensure that next year’s budget begins to reinvest in CUNY.

“The City Council has been a strong advocate for CUNY in years past, restoring many cuts proposed by the Mayor, but we need them to step up even more this year to help the university rebuild after years of cuts and underfunding,” said London.

A PSC analysis of public funding for CUNY community colleges since 1990-91 found:

  • City support per full-time equivalent (FTE) student has fallen 29.1%
  • City support declined as a proportion of total revenues, falling from 42% to 34%.
  • Tuition and fees have almost doubled as a proportion of total revenues, rising from 22% to 42%.

The study also revealed that the ratio of FTE students per full-time faculty member at CUNY community colleges has increased from 31 FTE students per full-time faculty member in Fall 2005 to 38 students per full-time faculty member in Fall 2012.

Read the complete analysis.

The PSC is calling on the City Council to pass a final budget for fiscal year 2013 that covers all of CUNY’s mandatory cost increases; adds full-time faculty lines; holds the line on tuition; supports programs like the Vallone Scholarship, the Murphy Center for Worker Education and the Black Male Initiative; and invests in improvements to CUNY’s physical plant.

The Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, affiliated with NYSUT and the AFT, represents the 25,000 faculty and professional staff at the City University of New York and the CUNY Research Foundation.